Contracts and salaries for newly remote workers
Posted on 13th April 2022
I think it is fair to say that things have changed over the last couple of years. What our businesses looked like three years ago may be a very different picture now.
Hybrid and remote working have become the norm. There are more remote working jobs available, employers have realised the many benefits of having less staff in the office and employees and candidates are enjoying the lack of commute.
But what happens if an employee who has always been office based now works from home?
1. Can you change their contract, and
2. can you negotiate a lower salary?
1 - Can I change the contract?
In a word, yes. If an employee goes from office working to home working, then changing their contract to reflect this is possibly a sensible idea.
You will need to outline your expectations, what equipment will be provided, how they will be communicated with as well as the standard contractual terms.
Of course, before you attempt to change any employment contract, you first need the agreement of the employee involved.
If remote or hybrid workings is only a temporary measure then you may need to consider whether any details need to be confirmed.
If this is a permanent move, then their working conditions will change so it stands to reason that their contract will too.
However, the fundamentals of their employment contract should not change. Simply added to. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Can you reduce the salary of an employee if they switch to remote working?
If you currently pay an enhanced salary based on travel to the office, for example, London Weighting, then yes, you may be able to withdraw this part of the salary. However, if travel and location do not form part of the salary, you are in a very grey area.
It is possible if the employee agrees (without force) to take a pay cut in order to be able to work from home, but the chances are slim. This really would involve a contractual change and if the employee is not in agreement, it could create greater issues, after all, they are working the same number of hours and fulfilling the same role.
It is rare that expenses such as travel are included in an employee contract, therefore, it is not a valid reason to reduce pay.
Moreover, it can be more challenging for someone to work remotely, and I would assume you would not be offering any remunerable compensation for that?
Summary You do need to set your expectations. Not just for the employee who will now be remote working but also for those who are still office based. It is possible that they may feel at a disadvantage because they do have costs involved in travelling so it is very important to communicate your reasons clearly. Meet with all team members involved Clearly outline how this arrangement will work Ensure everyone knows your selection process and demonstrate that it was fair Be ready to give an explanation as to why certain staff members have been given the remote working option With any contractual change, there needs to be a lot of communication and agreement from all parties. If this is something that you have never experienced before, or if you are unsure how to manage the situation legally and effectively, I would always suggest talking with an expert to get their advice first.
Please do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss the plan you would like to put in place. Taking HR from 'TO DO' to 'DONE'.
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